'It's time' to address social housing issue

Margaret River resident Angela Wellman speaks in the Shelter WA video highlighting the impact of housing struggles in the State.
Margaret River resident Angela Wellman speaks in the Shelter WA video highlighting the impact of housing struggles in the State.

As the rental crisis continues in the region and across WA, not for profit organisation Shelter WA has launched a new campaign aimed at increasing investment in social and affordable housing, and ending homelessness in the state.

"It's time to address the housing crisis," said Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA.

"A strong and robust social and affordable housing system is critical if we are to end homelessness, ensure everybody has a place to call home. Investment in housing will unlock opportunity providing everybody with the foundation for a good life.

"It also reduces the cost of homelessness on our community."

"Unlock Housing proposes a package to invest in social and affordable housing, fix the housing system and end homelessness.

"As well as providing a diverse range of housing options and support services for those in need, this housing package will create around 32,000 jobs and stimulate the economy.

"Most importantly, it will improve the health, wellbeing and housing security of thousands of West Australians in housing stress," Ms Mackenzie said.

"Shelter WA developed the Unlock Housing campaign, in partnership with the sector and people with lived experience of homelessness, with three core priorities that address the housing crisis and set us up for a bright housing future."

The group recently highlighted the experiences of Western Australians who have been forced to search for solutions to their housing stress.

Margaret River resident Angela Wellman's story resonated with many social media users after she appeared in a Shelter WA video.

"The first night of being homeless was actually really unsettling," Ms Wellman explains in the video.

"It was the school holidays, so everything was booked out... we had our camper trailer, it was all unknown... we were all a bit on edge."

The Wellman family's rental home was sold at the height of demand for property in the region, forcing the family of six to find alternative accomodation at a local campground.

"The house was put on the market, and it sold in the first weekend," she continues in the video, filmed on location at her family's current campsite.

"I was quickly looking around on realestate.com.au, Gumtree, Facebook, looking around to see what was available, and there was nothing.

"There was nothing really suitable for a larger family, so that was a bit confusing I guess, and we were a bit unsure what to do."

Ms Wellman said the uncertainty over where her family would spend the rest of the year put a "pause button" on their lives.

"Every night I go to bed with this worry of 'what is going to happen?' and so for me, I would love to get back into life.

"Everything is a lot harder when you don't have a house. I'd like to get back into living my life, creating my business and being with my family."

Ms Mackenzie said with 15,700 people on the housing waitlist and over 1,000 people sleeping rough every night, the WA Government's plans to create just 260 new social houses a year is "not enough" to meet demand.

"The WA Housing Strategy 2020-2030 sets the framework for increasing social and affordable housing supply," she said.

"The Strategy's target of 260 additional social homes per year over the next ten years will not meet current and future demand.

"Over the last three years social housing has decreased by 1,155 properties. Recent government investment will deliver an additional 870 social homes.

"Recent responses to people living rough has resulted in rapid accommodation and support for around 100 people.

"In partnership with the sector and people with lived experience, we have developed a suite of policy recommendations under three core priorities that address the housing crisis and set us up for a bright housing future.

"This shows what can be done with bold leadership and resolve."

For details, and to support the campaign, visit www.unlockhousing.com.au

View Angela's story and more at www.facebook.com/ShelterWA